Banking on Nancy Nadel for a Better Oakland

Thanks to one of my wonderful readers, a great mystery has been solved! Turns out the reason the East Bay Young Democrats wouldn’t provide any justification for their endorsement of Nancy Nadel isn’t because, as I had theorized, they didn’t have one. They do, it’s just too embarrassing to publicize. She brings them chocolate! Seriously! The description of tonight’s “event” on Facebook:

Nancy consistently proves she is a good friend to the club: whether she makes us homemade chocolate; gets the City of Oakland to honor one of our own with a city proclamation; or protects the public’s health by advocating for access to health services and for a cleaner port! Let’s do what we can to turn out the vote for Nancy Nadel, Oakland City Council District 3. Join us for the 30 minutes or the full 3-hours before you head out for the evening! All are welcome.

And hilariously, the title of this post actually is what they’re calling their event.

20 thoughts on “Banking on Nancy Nadel for a Better Oakland

  1. Max Allstadt

    So, why don’t we get 24 people down there to stump for Sean Sullivan and hand out flyers? Why 24? That’s the maximum that can hang out in Oakland without a permit. Seriously, get Sean down there and see if he can change some minds.

  2. dto510

    Max, Sullivan supporters who want to work against Nadel’s chocaholic minions can come to his office and phone their neighbors. I suspect Sean’s volunteers are more persuasive than the EBYDs, who don’t live in the district.

  3. Max Allstadt

    you have a point DTO. And lets not forget that the people walking around handing flyers out for Nancy aren’t direct volunteers to her.

    Oakie –

    I’ll follow up your comment with my own:

    “They say they want groceries? Let them eat chocolate!”

  4. OP



    My post did not say one way or another whether Nadel was more attentive to young advocates and youth issues than Sean would be, simply that she is more attentive to these issues than other currently-serving Councilmembers. Perhaps Sean would be even better than Nadel on this point, I don’t know. I am sure Sean can make compelling arguments that he would be open to young advocates. To be frank though, every elected official claims they’ll “listen to everyone” once elected, but few ever do. If access and attentativeness was an important consideration for EBYDers, I can hardly blame them for going with a known commodity.

    As to your future push against “secret interviews,” are you telling me that you will insist that the Labor Council, the Chamber, Tribune Editorial Board — hell pretty much every group and organization in existence in Oakland where the general membership doesn’t decide the endorsement — needs to have transcripts available for your review? I don’t think they’d do it and any candidates that skipped going for their endorsement because of it would be foolish.

    I also don’t really agree with the principle behind your argument. These are political organizations and everyone realizes their endorsements are based on policy and politics. If they feel that private interviews facilitates frankness and allows them to ask blunt questions that they may not be able to in public, that is their prerogative. You can take every endorsement they make with a huge grain of salt, and that is your prerogative. I wonder if you would advocate that every private deliberation between an elected official and advocates or their staff should be webcast so the public can audit the integrity and rationale for every policy decision? I think most would find that a tad extreme although, as public officials, it would seem they should have less of an entitlement to privacy than businesses, political clubs, or advocacy organizations.

  5. OP

    Sorry! This post was in response to Max’s comment on the previous post. I posted it here (with a disclaimer that disappeared… I think because I used “” to bracket) because I thought comments had been closed on the previous psot, but it turns out it’s because I forgot to enter “orange”… my bad!

  6. Max Allstadt

    “I wonder if you would advocate that every private deliberation between an elected official and advocates or their staff should be webcast so the public can audit the integrity and rationale for every policy decision?”

    yes i would. absolutely. open source everything. the truth shall set us free.

  7. jif

    I can not say enough about the strength and conviction of many of Oakland’s voters. “Hey Charlene, they’re handing out chocalate! Let’s vote for Nadel!”

  8. Matt Lockshin

    I’m supposed to justify myself to someone who can’t even demonstrate basic reading comprehension? It’s surprising. Someone searching for the reasons for EBYD supporting Nadel might have keyed in on “…or protects the public’s health by advocating for access to health services and for a cleaner port” as an important part of what you quoted.

    But apparently you can’t get past the idea that a group of people who support an elected official might, in addition, appreciate the relationships built by working together with that elected official.

    Moreover, the deeper issues is that you take something that is clearly not offered as a justification but treat it as though it were. In addition, you pretend that the least important part of what you quote is proffered with all seriousness as the explanation for why we support her. So you manage both to misconstrue the context of the quote and you manage to create a straw argument out of it.

    You want to know one reason why I support Nancy Nadel? This is not an exhaustive listing, nor is it the only sufficient reason I could list to support her. However, it’s the one that leaps to the forefront of my mind.

    Last week the Peralta Community College Board approved a two-year pilot program to allow full-time Peralta students to purchase subsidized AC Transit passes. They are estimated to save students up to $1,200. This wouldn’t have happened without Nancy Nadel.

    Before the election of Peralta Trustee Abel Guillen (whose campaign I ran) there was no movement on this project. At the time he was running in 2006 I spoke with both members of the AC Transit Board and the Peralta Board who all said that the project was going nowhere. But Abel consistently saidit was something he wanted to work on. Since his election he has done just that. I have seen him fight to push this project forward. We wouldn’t have seen this project voted into place without his leadership and he wouldn’t have been elected were it not for Nancy Nadel.

    Abel ran against an entrenched incumbent who had (and still has) a lot of friends in the Oakland political establishment. So it took a long time for most elected officials to come around and even give Abel the time of day. Many of these officials privately acknowledged significant problems with the incumbent’s performance on the Peralta Board but refused to seriously consider supporting Abel because of the politics of the situation. So despite financial mismanagement, declining transfer rates, and massive under-enrollment, much of the Oakland political establishment was content to allow the Peralta system to continue to founder. One notable exception to this was Nancy Nadel. Her strong support, which came well before most politicians considered him viable, was a key to Abel’s victory.

    Laney is the principal college of the Peralta system and a huge component of Oakland’s educational safety-net. And when there was a serious and manifest need for reform in the Peralta system, Nancy Nadel stood up when others were content to stay on the sidelines.

    I am unmoved by the idea that someone calling the cops on Art Murmur is in any way commensurate with helping improve the Peralta Community College System as Nancy assuredly has done. In fact, even as someone who enjoys Art Murmur, I think that even raising this issue in the context of a city council race is petty. Nancy Nadel represents all of the students who go to McClymonds and their parents. A hell of a lot more of them need Laney to function than need to be able to drink on the streets outside of some gallery during Art Murmur. Heck, I think everyone in Oakland needs Laney to function more than they need to be able to drink outside of Art Murmur.

    Matt Lockshin
    At-Large Board Member
    East Bay Young Dems

  9. dto510

    Matt Lockshin – This is unpersuasive. You support Nadel because she supported Abel Guillen, who moved forward on a years-delayed project to get AC Transit passes? I agree that the AC Transit / Peralta project is very important, and it’s exciting that it’s happening, but I simply don’t see how Nadel helped. I recall that many of Ignacio’s mayoral campaigners supported Mr. Guillen (as well as Mr. de la Fuente himself), but the EBYDs didn’t endorse Ignacio. Regarding AC Transit, Ms. Nadel hasn’t done anything to help Bus Rapid Transit with the 12th Street Bridge. On other transit issues, like bike/ped improvements, she’s remarkably less effective than her neighboring councilmembers Jane Brunner and Pat Kernighan.

  10. Joanna/OnTheGoJo


    I have to agree with dto510, supporting Abel Guillen is not a great reason for endorsing Nadel.

    Laney needs so much help… I’ve yet to take a day class there where more than 10% of the students spoke English and where showing up got you a C. Forget homework or actually doing projects. Night classes were immensely better in terms of student quality.

    My biggest complaint on Nadel is her inability to see the District as a whole. She only sees West Oakland as important because they “need her.” Well, the rest of her district needs/needed her and she told us point blank that she doesn’t care about us. It’s an issue of “race” she says. Well, in our diverse neighborhood, we’ve figured it out and the majority are not supporting her.

  11. Max Allstadt

    Matt -

    So you open your comments with this: “I’m supposed to justify myself to someone who can’t even demonstrate basic reading comprehension?”. This in and of itself suggests to me that you may have a personality very compatible with Ms. Nadel.

    It’s also insanely hypocritical to open with a line like that and then end your comments by implying that the Art Murmur incident is the big reason we’re not voting for Nadel. And you even misrepresent that issue. It wasn’t about the right to drink outside, it was about the lack of common courtesy that she showed by escalating a situation to police enforcement when she could have started out by calling up a gallery or two and saying, “hey guys, knock it off.”

    The issue for most people who are opposing her candidacy boils down to poor service to constituents. The fact that she represents some key high-crime areas and couldn’t get the Police Association’s endorsement after 12 years in office says it all to me.

    I disagree with Joanna about Nadel only seeing West Oakland. I think she only sees people who’ve demonstrated that they’ll be political allies. Which is why you guys know her so well, apparently. Any of your board members even live in district 3?

  12. Matt Lockshin


    A couple of points:

    1) The AC Transit project to me is not only good in itself, it also evidences a change on the Peralta Board away from management by crisis to a type of governance that results in positive developments like the AC Transit project. The point, and maybe I didn’t make it pointedly enough above, is that the Peralta Board itself wasn’t functioning well as a Board. I think this has changed since Abel was elected and I credit it to a number of things, not the least of which is his leadership and his efforts to get beyond the divisiveness that characterized the Board prior to his election. So Nancy supported change on the Peralta Board when the need for change was widely understood but when there was very little political will to enact the needed change. The AC Transit project is a direct result of her support for reform on the Peralta Board.

    2) As Abel’s campaign manager I can tell you without equivocation that Nancy’s help was hugely important while, as far as I can recall, De la Fuente never endorsed Abel nor helped him in any explicit way. It’s true that Abel was supported by some of Ignacio’s supporters (I know one EBYD Board member at the time was one of Ignacio’s super volunteers), but I believe Abel earned their support in his own right.

    3) All of this said, I do think your understanding of what I said above is somewhat reductionist.

    For example, my reasoning is not simply that Nancy helped Abel so I am going to help her (both the Green Party and OakPAC helped Abel, and I’m not out supporting either organization).

    The issue is that Nancy stood up for her principles and supported Abel when it was politically dangerous to do so. I respect her greatly for that and I think Abel’s election is a prime case where her courage to stand up for what she believes in made things tangibly better in Oakland. In my book, that constitutes the type of leadership I want to support.

  13. dto510

    ML, Again, for people who live in D3, her endorsement, important as it may have been, for another good public official is not a good reason to support her bid for a fourth term. But I think you have a very good point about Abel Guillen, and how one new member changed the culture of the Peralta Board, and helped important projects move forward. It is exactly that new, energetic leadership that the Oakland City Council needs to shake of their culture of complacency and get going on long-delayed but important projects. Nancy Nadel does not provide the type of leadership I want to support, though Mr. Guillen does.

  14. Matt Lockshin


    I recognize the huge problems with Laney, which is why I was so upset by progressive political leaders both acknowledging the problems and then refusing to do anything about it. I don’t intend to imply that Peralta is now perfect. But I do think that things are starting to get better and I think Nancy is part of that.


    I see the Art Murmur thing bandied about a lot, but I understand it’s not the principal reason why folks aren’t supporting her. Still, to me it’s a petty issue in the context of her race.


    Again, I think you’re being reductionist in your interpretation of what I said, but I won’t belabor the point further. Also, I do want to note that I was offering one reason why I support Nancy. It may not be compelling to others, which is fine. You haven’t worked with her like I have. It is, however, not support based upon abstract ideology as was intimated in an earlier blog post.

  15. Max Allstadt


    Again, the murmur wasn’t the issue. It was an example of poor judgment and rash decision making. And one of many.

    I actually had one brief, very pleasant meeting with Nancy in April. I was looking for little things I could do to get my artist friends involved in giving back to the city. She was super nice, and had a bunch of connections she was willing to check out. I had gone into that meeting thinking that she knew I was a Sullivan supporter, as I’d visibly shown up with Sean at your forum, and at a couple of other events. She apparently hadn’t noticed, so when she drove by my place on her way home and saw a Sullivan sign above my door, I got a sarcastic email. I tried to explain myself, to no avail. I felt like I was persona non grata from there on out. My explanation, in a nutshell, was that whoever won this race I wanted to stay engaged in helping this city.

    I’m a newb to politics. Perhaps I should have known better.

  16. Edie Irons

    Yes, one EBYD board member does live in District 3. And a lot of our members (I’d guess somewhere between a third to half) do live in Oakland, just to set the record straight on that. I don’t have time right now to set all the other records straight, because I’m at work.
    But you know, it’s not even about setting it straight. We are just coming from different places. The people in our club who voted on our endorsement have had overwhelmingly positive experiences with Nancy Nadel. Our understanding – and yes, this includes some people who do not live in her district or interact with her as constituents – has been that she is working her ass off for the district and that she has been a positive force on the council. Obviously V Smoothe and many of the vocal readers of A Better Oakland disagree, and have had different experiences. Fine. As has been noted here (or maybe on the FutureOakland post), the East Bay Young Democrats is a political organization, not a neighborhood association or a constituent group for any one candidate.

    ONE of the reasons I support Nancy is because of her work to protect women seeking abortions in Oakland. Pro-life demonstrators hang outside of clinics in this city and harass women on their way in to receive health services — yelling at the women, waving pictures of bloody fetuses, etc. It’s a totally inappropriate way to express an opinion, and it’s also dangerous for the women (raising their blood pressure and upsetting them before a surgical procedure). ANYWAY, Nancy Nadel has been THE go-to councilmember on this issue. She’s made sure that the cops are responsive when the “antis” get out of hand, and she championed a “bubble ordinance” to ensure a reasonable distance between antis and women seeking health care or clinic staff. Someone claimed that Nancy hadn’t done much for young people, well this is a pretty major example. Most women who go to these clinics are under 25. They need an advocate to defend their access to health care, and Nancy has stepped up and done a lot of work on their behalf.

  17. V Smoothe Post author

    Edie -

    I agree. We really are coming from completely different places. I think your comment provides a really good example of the vast difference in priorities between those who live in the District and those who don’t live in Oakland. I’m a supporter of womens’ reproductive rights, and have donated time and money to advocate for these goals in a non-local capacity, and I’m happy we passed the bubble ordinance (although I find the fact the Nadel could not produce an ordinance that was Constitutionally compliant enough to withstand a legal challenge yet another striking example of how her lack of attention to detail and implementation makes her ineffective, even on the issues she is an advocate for).

    But when you live and work here, you are reminded every single day that people can’t buy food, people can’t walk down the street without fear of being attacked, youth have no recreation opportunities, transit access keeps getting worse, and so on. Residents can’t enjoy their neighborhoods, and even those who try to step up and take the initiative to do so can’t get any help or response from the Council office, and often find that the office acts as a barrier. For people who have to live with that reality, it’s hard to see things like the bubble ordinance, no matter how admirable it may be, as enough to make up for persistent failure on everything else.

  18. Max Allstadt

    Edie -

    I’m glad Nancy helped protect women going to these clinics. My own mother is on the board of Planned Parenthood in DC, and has worked as a clinic escort there too. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about how awful anti’s can get.

    Still, as important as it is to take a stand on that issue, those of us in community groups have more systemic problems. This is the most local of local politics, and I really wish more attention would be paid to the district itself by outside interest groups.

    V, did the bubble ordinance get struck down? I can’t stand those antis. I’ve been thinking, if they can protest abortion by showing nasty pictures, why can’t I protest hardcore porn in the same way? In front of the antis. And their kids. Fair is fair.